This is a tale of the enlargement soft power which helped transforming relation between countries in the triangle Zagreb – Belgrade – Sarajevo. At the territory of this triangle, there are approximately fifteen million people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds who have been deeply divided throughout the history over the issue of past and who can hardly agree on the contents of a history textbook, but who are nonetheless very similar and economically and culturally mutually interdependent. Observing this triangle as a geometric shape, the lines Zagreb – Sarajevo and Sarajevo – Belgrade are catheti, while the line Belgrade – Zagreb represents a hypotenuse of this triangle. If for a moment we convert the relations between the states into a geometric form, by using the Pythagoras’ Theorem we could conclude, of course symbolically, sums of (squares) of relations of Sarajevo with other two capitals is equal to the (square) of the relation between ZAGREB and BELGRADE, as its hypotenuse. This geometry lesson and its perhaps forced application on the regional relations leads to a unique conclusion which very much fits the reality: Zagreb and Belgrade always held and still hold the key to regional relations, particularly at the territory that is the subject of this analysis.
Over the course of the last 20 years, “the Balkans proper” (in this case, the former Yugoslavia plus Albania), with its great-power nationalisms and wrong ideologies, has practically eaten up its very substance and, as such, is unlikely to join Europe, which during this time has developed and grown on entirely different premises. It has become obvious that an all-encompassing strong desire for EU membership can be achieved only if the Balkan people embrace the very same principles of mutual connection on which the French, the Germans, and others have built the contemporary EU.
Are the Balkans really ready for this absolutely necessary change? The analysis asserts that slowly but surely the time is coming, and, together with this, and even more importantly, people are coming to understand this. Moreover, this time around, the connection is based on economic interests as the ideology of the new era, or, as the renowned journalist Tim Judah put it in a nutshell – on the logic of an economic Yugosphere. While it may be true that in public discourse, anything bearing the political and geographical determinant of “Yugo” still has a predominantly negative connotation, in real life, over the last ten years or so, there have been changes that carry within them all the most important ingredients for a new Balkan mix.